What if you don’t feel fulfilled at work? How can I find fulfillment outside of my work? Where is this fulfillment as a mom hiding?
Today on Fulfilled as a Mom I’m diving into a listener question. And in case you didn’t know, you are more than welcome to email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org! We’d absolutely love to hear what you are winning at, struggling with, or wondering about as you navigate through working motherhood. The more that you share with me, the better I can get to know you and the things that you are dealing with in your life, the better I can serve you with this show! Don’t be shy. Send me ALL the questions and maybe, someday soon, we can do a rapid fire Q&A episode.
A Fulfilled as a Mom listener reached out and asked me about finding fulfillment OUTSIDE of work. She explained that currently she’s not in a position where she is interested in making changes at work. She likes but doesn’t LOVE her job and feels kind-of-sort-of, a little bit fulfilled with the work that she is doing. Her hours are good and the pay is right, the commute it short and she’s able to get home for kids practices, games, dinner, bath and bedtime. For all of these reasons and some other financial and logistical reasons with her spouse and his job, her job is where she’s staying for the time being.
She shared with me that she’s looking for ways to infuse fulfillment into her everyday life, from mornings to evenings and weekends spent outside of work. She’s feeling a little stuck – like she’s on a hamster wheel of chores, to dos, getting here, there and everywhere and she isn’t feeling filled up, fulfilled, or even that happy each night when her head hits the pillow.
Work takes up so much time. Parenting takes up so much time, energy, focus and mental calisthenics. Being in relationships, romantic or friendship, takes time, energy and focus. You may feel like you are using up all of your energy reserves pouring out into those around you and it can leave you feeling empty and wrung out.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like that.
In fact, even though I have made so many changes and been diligent about creating opportunities to foster fulfillment in my life… heck, I host a show called FULFILLED AS A MOM for goodness sake… I can still find myself having these same feelings.
How can we foster fulfillment outside of work?
01. What do you enjoy?
What things bring you joy? What types of things do you look forward to?
Is it reading in silence during naptime? Going on a run? Having time for prayer and reflection in the morning before the kids wake up? Date nights and connecting with your partner? Book club or moms night out with your girlfriends?
Think of instances or things, that, when you see them on the family calendar, leave you smiling and anticipating that time because it energizes you.
Then, think about how often you’ve been doing those things. If you’ve been feeling a dearth of fulfillment in your life… the answer may be a resounding not enough.
Another thing to be on the look out for is the trap of overscheduling yourself with activities that ARE NOT generating fulfillment in your life.
For me, if I’m overscheduled with energy sucking tasks, events, and things like practice, games, meetings and get togethers with people who don’t lend me life and light… I don’t have the energy or the bandwidth to schedule the things that DO bring me joy.
So, alongside adding the things that you love to your calendar, consider ditching the things that don’t. It will give you more margin, time and energy to do the things that you enjoy!
02. Sprinkle Enjoyment into Everyday Tasks
The second tip I have for you to increase your sense of fulfillment is adding a sprinkle of enjoyment into the everyday tasks of your life. Fulfillment exists outside of work, if only you will intentionally infuse it into your hum drum chores!
Things have to be done and, if you are anything like me, you don’t feel a wonderful, uplifting sense of fulfillment from doing dishes, vacuuming or doing laundry. If you do, please shoot me an email with your secret so I can share it with the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling that those things are DONE and all the clean clothes, dishes and floors are there for me to enjoy and those tasks are no longer on my to do list.
So, when you have a task that’s somewhat mindless like washing dishes or folding laundry, pop in your earbuds and choose one of these three entertaining and energizing things to press play on:
1 – a great audiobook. Whether you choose something productive like inspirational self-development or a steamy romance novel, having someone tell you a story, teach you and inspire you can help to up the fulfillment factor for these tasks.
2 – a podcast episode. Just like this one. Find some inspiring and encouraging podcast hosts who you find funny, truthful, and entertaining and press play before you dive your hands into that soapy water.
3 – music. Music is medicine. Music has the ability to improve your mood and change the dynamics of your day. Choose something that matches your mood OR, if your mood isn’t the mood that you want to continue having, choose something that will lift your mood and get you dancing around with that vacuum cleaner, mama!
03. Rethink Your Default Activities
You know, the ones that you do when you flop down on the couch after the kids are in bed, or when you have a few free minutes during the day. Maybe you’re grabbing your phone and scrolling, watching other people’s lives and highlights instead of living your own?
Maybe you are zoning out watching Netflix instead of having a heart-to-heart and connecting with your spouse or calling your mom or sister.
Here is one thing that I started a couple of weeks ago and it has been a lot of fun for me. I started plugging my cell phone in in the kitchen instead of on my bedside table – I do this as soon as I get home from work – and I leave it there until the next day when I’m leaving for work in the morning. That means from the evening to the next morning, usually about 12 hours, I’m phone free. I’m not carrying around my phone and compulsively checking for texts, emails and slipping and finding myself down the social media rabbit hole.
Here’s what 12-hours of phone free time has taught me:
I’m talking more to Dan.
I’m reading WAY more. I have even started picking up my book instead of my phone and I’ve been really enjoying getting into stories that I felt like I didn’t have time for before.
I’m connecting with the kids more.
I’m sleeping better.
My screen time is WAY now.
My feeling of fulfillment and being present … it’s way up!
Sometimes unplugging from the distraction or the “digital pacifier” as my friend Jenna Kutcher likes to call it is the thing that we need to recharge and cultivate more fulfillment in our lives, even outside the office or hospital.
04. Sit In Stillness and Silence
Slow down long enough to be still and feel your feelings. If you are searching for something, feeling empty and wishing that you had a stronger sense of fulfillment in your life, sometimes doing less is more. Sit with your thoughts. Grow a meditation practice.
This one, if I’m being honest, is the hardest one for me. I love to fill the silence with words and actions. It’s easier for me to move on to the next item on the to do list, prep things for tomorrow, and to keep my body and mind in motion than to sit, rest and exist with my thoughts and feelings.
This world is loud and distracting and, for me, the discomfort that comes from being still is ever present. But, just like meditation, this is something that takes practice. I’ve got a long way to go, but being in the moment with less distractions is something that boosts my happiness, presence and fulfillment if I’ll take the time and work to intentionally eliminate the distractions.
05. Discover a Creative Pursuit
Yes, a hobby!
When is the last time that you did something simply because you enjoy it? Maybe it’s drawing, creative writing, knitting, a sport or a musical instrument. What is that thing that you enjoy, that lights you up and makes you happy?
How can you integrate that creative pursuit into your life? Can you include your family? How can you make arrangements for your kids with your partner or others in your life to help you to carve out this time?
P.S. Your partner deserves time to do this, too, so can you figure out a day and time that works for you to do your thing and another day and time so they can do their thing while you hold down the fort?
For both of you, finding fulfillment outside of work is a key piece in this puzzle to creating a life of fulfillment. You know, the life where you feel wildly happy and get to lean into your strengths as a human being? Yeah, that life!
Just in case you need this reminder… you deserve to have a life that is flush with fulfillment, joy and happiness. Being exhausted and overworked isn’t the only way. You can cultivate opportunities for fulfillment in your life and, in doing so, set an example to your kiddos that you want them to grow up to have things in their life that bring joy, fully use their gifts and abilities, contribute to the world and make a difference.
You can do this with small shifts, swaps, mindset resets and with being intentional. You can choose to do less of the things that drain you and more of the things that bring you joy. I’m encouraging you to choose one of these strategies and make a plan to implement it today…. Because knowledge isn’t power… but rather applied knowledge. So take this information and go about the work of creating a life of fulfillment, you deserve it!
Annnd just in case the thought of you pursuing a hobby makes you feel all the #momguilt, here’s what I have to say about that.